Saturday, 8 January 2022 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to be good and committed Christians who do our part to care for one another, in reminding each other to live good and virtuous Christian lives at all times, distancing ourselves from sin. All of us are called to be part of the missionary outreach and works of the Church, for the salvation of many more souls, for us to be great role models for our fellow brethren at all times and in every opportunities.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard the Apostle exhorting the faithful people of God to follow the Lord and His path, to be faithful to Jesus Christ, the One Whom God has sent into our midst, God’s own beloved Son incarnate in the flesh, and born of His mother, the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary. The Lord has shown us the path of freedom from the bondage of sin and the tyranny of death. By His suffering and death, He has purchased for us the redemption for all of our multitudes of sins.

In that same passage, we heard how sin can lead to death, for sin is caused by our disobedience against God and our refusal to obey His will. And since we have rejected the Lord of life, Our Master, then it is only right and just that we have to suffer the consequences of our sins, that is death. But death is not the final fate for us unless we have consciously rejected the Lord right to the very last moments of our lives, refusing all the opportunities and the generosity by which God had given us the chances time and again to repent and turn away from our sinful ways.

When St. John mentioned that not all sins lead to death, this highlighted the fact that Christ Our Lord has freely given His love and merciful compassion to us. He has reached our even to those who have condemned Him to death and made Him to suffer, praying for them all and forgiving them their sins and their faults. He has given even the worst of sinners the chance to find redemption and the path to eternal life through His compassionate love. He came into our world, to our midst to look for us all, to find those who have been lost to God due to sin.

Yet, it was our stubbornness that had led us astray and prevented us from finding our way back to Him. Our continued attachments and desire for worldly temptations and sins eventually led us back into a wicked life and a state of sin, from which God kept on calling us and trying to bring us out, to allow us to return to Him. He has prepared the path and the place for us with Him, but everything in the end depends on us and whether we are willing to accept His love and compassionate mercy. Too often that we have rejected His love and mercy, brothers and sisters in Christ.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard how St. John the Baptist, the Herald of the Messiah worked hard for the glory of God, and when the Lord came and revealed Himself, and gained more and more followers, he humbly receded from the public popularity and allowed his Lord and Master to become more important than he was. When some of his disciples confronted him regarding this, he humbly mentioned how it has been his purpose from the very beginning to serve his Lord and Master, the One for Whom he had been sent into this world, to prepare His way before His coming.

In that way, St. John the Baptist was very happy that the Lord was gaining more follower and attention, and he was happy that everything went as it should be. He did not do all his works, the baptisms and others for his own sake and glory, unlike what many other people would have done. He did everything all for the greater glory of God, and gave his whole life to serve the Lord and to follow Him, and show the path to His salvation to all who followed him and were willing to listen to him. He is truly an example that all of us can and should follow.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the great examples of faith and dedication showed by St. John the Baptist, let us all strive to walk humbly from now on before the Lord, dedicating ourselves to follow Him and to be faithful to Him in all things. Let us all appreciate all the love and compassionate kindness, the mercy and forgiveness that God has shown us all these while. Let us embrace God’s love through Christ, His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, and strive to become ever better Christians, ever better disciples of Our Lord from now on. May God be with us all, and may He remain with us in His love for us, always. Amen.

Saturday, 8 January 2022 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 22-30

At that time, Jesus went into the territory of Judea with His disciples. He stayed there with them and baptised. John was also baptising in Aenon, near Salim, where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptised. This happened before John was put in prison.

Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the One Who was with you across the Jordan, and about Whom you spoke favourably, is now baptising, and all are going to Him.”

John answered, “No one can receive anything, except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full. It is necessary that He increase, but that I decrease.”

Saturday, 8 January 2022 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 149 : 1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

Alleluia! Sing to the Lord a new song, sing His praise in the assembly of His saints. Let Israel rejoice in his Maker, let the people of Zion glory in their King!

Let them dance in praise of His Name and make music for Him with harp and timbrel. For the Lord delights in His people; He crowns the lowly with victory.

The saints will exult in triumph; even at night on their couches. Let the praise of God be on their lips, this is the glory of all His saints. Alleluia!

Saturday, 8 January 2022 : Saturday after the Epiphany (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 14-21

Through the Son of God we are fully confident that whatever we ask, according to His will, He will grant us. If we know that He hears us whenever we ask, we know that we already have what we asked of Him.

If you see your brother committing sin, a sin which does not lead to death, pray for him, and God will give life to your brother. I speak, of course, of the sin which does not lead to death. There is also a sin that leads to death; I do not speak of praying about this. Every kind of wrongdoing is sin, but not all sin leads to death.

We know, that those born of God do not sin, but the One Who was born of God, protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know, that we belong to God, while the whole world lies in evil. We know, that the Son of God has come and has given us power to know the truth. We are in Him Who is true, His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God, and eternal life. My dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scripture, we are called to remember the love of God and all that He has done for our sake, which He has shown us and revealed to us through none other than Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour. He has revealed to us just how fortunate we are to have been beloved in such a way by our Lord. God has always been kind and compassionate to us, and His love was what made His action possible, in sending us our salvation through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

In our first reading today, taken from the Epistle of St. John, we heard of the words of the Apostle concerning all that God had done for our sake, through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. In that passage, we heard St. John speaking of how Christ has been acknowledged through water and through Blood and the Spirit of God. This was a reference of everything that we have received from Him, and how He has revealed Himself and God’s salvation, through His baptism at the Jordan, His crucifixion and death, and finally through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

First of all, at the time of His baptism at the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist, the Lord has been proclaimed by the voice coming down from Heaven, as He was immersed in the water, and a Dove came to rest on Him, the Holy Spirit descending from the Father into this world through Jesus, the Son. The Father’s voice spoke the truth about the Man Who was baptised that day, that Jesus is indeed His Son and the One Whom He had promised to send into our midst, so that we may be saved from our fated destruction.

Then, at the moment of His crucifixion, as Christ bore His Cross, and was nailed to that Cross, enduring for us the punishments and the consequences that we ourselves ought to have suffered, He spilled His Most Precious Blood, which came down to us, as the Blood that washes us away from our sins. At that same time, when the soldiers were told to break the legs of those who had been crucified, Jesus was already dead, and one of the soldiers, later known as St. Longinus, took a spear and hit the side of the Lord with it, and immediately blood and water poured forth from it, a proof of God’s Love that endured even through His death on the Cross.

And lastly, the same Holy Spirit that had come down upon the Lord was also sent to the Apostles and the other disciples just as the Lord Himself has promised them, as tongues of fire descending on them at Pentecost, fulfilling what He has promised them and revealing to those who have received the Spirit, the fullness of truth of God’s love for us mankind and His saving grace. Through all these signs therefore we have been made aware of the most wonderful love that God has given us, through His most beloved Son, Whose coming into this world has given us all a new hope.

In our Gospel passage today, we then also heard from the Gospel of St. Luke regarding the healing of a man suffering from leprosy. The Lord wanted to heal him, and immediately, He cured the man from the leprosy. Leprosy was then a very dreaded disease that according to the old Law and customs of the Israelites would have led those who were suffering from it to be forced to live away from the rest of the society, to wander off in the wilderness until they could prove that their disease had been completely cured.

This is yet again another reminder for us of the most generous and wonderful love of God which He has kindly and generously shown us from the very beginning. God has reached out to us and make Himself approachable to us through Christ, and we ought to remember during this the blessed time of Christmas. We celebrate the most generous and amazing love God has bestowed on us, everything that He had done for us through His Son. We all rejoice because the Light of our Hope has come upon us.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Raymond of Penyafort, also known as St. Raymond of Penafort, a renowned Dominican friar and priest who was instrumental in the codification of the laws of the Church that remained in force for many centuries, as well as his many contributions to the Church in the areas of theology and Catholic education, and in a most well-known miracle, he was also instrumental in the conversion of King James I of Aragon, who lived in a state of sin with his mistress and repeatedly refused to dismiss her.

St. Raymond of Penyafort sailed away from the city on his cloak, in a great miracle still remembered to this day, when the king forbade him to leave the capital city of Barcelona. This was seen by many of the sailors who witnessed the saint sailing on his cloak, as well as by many other spectators. The king was stunned by this great miracle, and was humbled, that he mended his path in life and from then on, lived more virtuously in accordance with the Law and the rules of the Church.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, through the short exposition of the life and examples showed by St. Raymond of Penyafort, all of us are called to follow his good examples and to show our faith sincerely to the Lord. Are we able and willing to show our love to the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? Remember how He has loved us so much through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, just as discussed it earlier on. Let us then love the Lord in the same way that He has first loved us, and do our best to honour Him with our righteous and worthy lives from now on.

May the Lord be with us all, and may His love continue to be poured onto us, in our every day and every moments. May He bless us all in our every endeavours and good works for the greater glory of His Name. Amen.

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 5 : 12-16

At that time, one day, in another town, a man came to Jesus covered with leprosy. On seeing Jesus, the man bowed down to the ground, and said, “Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean.”

Stretching out His hand, Jesus touched the man and said, “Yes, I want to. Be clean.” In an instant, the leprosy left him. Then Jesus instructed him, “Tell this to no one. But go, and show yourself to the priest. Make an offering for your healing, as Moses prescribed; that will serve as evidence for them.”

But the news about Jesus spread all the more; and large crowds came to Him, to listen and to be healed of their sickness. As for Jesus, He would often withdraw to solitary places and pray.

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 147 : 12-13, 14-15, 19-20

Exalt YHVH, o Jerusalem; praise your God, o Zion! For He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your children within you.

He grants peace on your borders and feeds you with the finest grain. He sends His command to the earth and swiftly runs His word.

It is He, Who tells Jacob His words; His laws and decrees, to Israel. This, He has not done for other nations, so His laws remain unknown to them. Alleluia!

Friday, 7 January 2022 : Friday after the Epiphany, Memorial of St. Raymond of Penyafort, Priest (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

1 John 5 : 5-13

Who has overcome the world? The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus Christ was acknowledged through water, but also through Blood. Not only water but water and Blood. And the Spirit, too, witnesses to Him for the Spirit is truth.

There are then three testimonies : the Spirit, the water and the Blood, and these three witnesses agree. If we accept human testimony, with greater reason must we accept that of God, given in favour of His Son. If you believe in the Son of God, you have God’s testimony in you.

But those who do not believe make God a liar, since they do not believe His words when He witnesses to His Son. What has God said? That He has granted us eternal life and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life, the one who do not have the Son of God do not have life.

I write you, then, all these things that you may know that you have eternal life, all you who believe in the Name of the Son of God.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord, we heard of the reminder of the love of God that has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, Whose coming into this world brought forth upon us the fulfilment of the long promised salvation that God had promised to each and every one of us, to all mankind through His many prophets and messengers that He had sent to us in the past.

In our Gospel reading today, we heard how the Lord Jesus came to the synagogue in His hometown Nazareth, and reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, uttering the very words that the prophet had spoken regarding His own coming into this world. By proclaiming the words of God’s salvation, and reminding all of us of His promises, Christ has reassured all those assembled, and all of us here who have heard those words from the Scriptures, that He will always uphold and fulfil His promises, and we can truly trust in Him.

For it was by His Incarnation and coming into this world that He has shown us the gifts of His love, and the hope of redemption, for us to be reconciled to Him and to be able to find our way to Him. The Lord has sent His own Son into our midst that He may dwell with us and remain with us, and that we are not alone regardless of what we are facing in this world. He has come to heal us from our wounds, forgiving us our trespasses and transgressions, and calling us to repent from our many sins and be reconciled with us.

In our first reading today, the Apostle St. John in his Epistle spoke of the calling for all of us Christians to love one another and to show love in our daily lives and actions, just as God has loved us first, through all that He had done for us and ultimately through Christ, by His loving sacrifice on the Cross, as He selflessly took upon Himself all the scourges, the punishments and the sufferings due to our sins. He gave Himself for us, so that by His love and actions, all of us may receive the guarantee of everlasting life, and by His wounds and His death, we have been made sharers in the true joy and everlasting glory.

If we all profess to believe in God, then it is natural that each and every one of us should love Him to the best of our abilities, and to reach out to Him, loving Him first and foremost before all else. And with this same love, all of us should also love our fellow brothers and sisters, in our respective communities. For if the Lord has loved each and every one of us without any exceptions, even to the worst of sinners, then how can we not love our brothers and sisters, even strangers whom we encounter in our daily lives?

And not only that, but as the Lord Himself has also taught His disciples, we have to learn to love even our enemies and all those who hate us. It is easy for us to love those who love us back, but it is much harder to love those who have made our lives difficult and hurt us. But that was exactly what the Lord Himself had done to us. Remember how He has forgiven even those who have made Him to suffer, rejected and humiliated Him, all those who have condemned Him to die a most painful death on the Cross. He forgave those who hated Him from

His Cross and prayed for them all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all learn to love generously and fulfil our calling as Christians to show love to one another in the same way that the Lord has first shown us. Let us not harden our hearts and open ourselves ever more to God’s most generous love and wonders. Through His love, God has rescued us and endeavoured to make us whole again. Yet, it was by our stubbornness that many of us remained attached to sin and placed ourselves under the bondage and the sway of sin, of evil and wickedness.

Today, as we continue to celebrate this Christmas season, let us all be witnesses of God’s love in the midst of our communities, and let us devote ourselves ever more courageously in order to love the Lord and to share that love with each other. Let us follow the Lord and His ways, of loving generously and tenderly from now on, always and evermore. May God bless us always and remain with us, at all times. Amen.

Thursday, 6 January 2022 : Thursday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 4 : 14-22a

At that time, Jesus acted with the power of the Spirit; and on His return to Galilee, the news about Him spread throughout all that territory. He began teaching in the synagogue of the Jews and everyone praised Him.

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as He usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed Him the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written : “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me. He has anointed Me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord’s year of mercy.”

Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. Then He said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.” All agreed with Him, and were lost in wonder, while He spoke of the grace of God.